Thursday, May 7, 2015

Brisbane Goes to HydroPaws

For Brisbane's tenth birthday, I booked him an appointment at HydroPaws Animal Rehabilitation and Performance Center. He didn't have any specific injury, but he has developed some hip arthritis in the last year and I want to keep him as flexible as possible. This was an initial consultation appointment, so the physical therapist spent most of the time evaluating Brisbane.

The first thing Karen the physical therapist did was assess Brisbane's range of motion. We did this mostly with treats to begin with, luring his nose around to the side to see how far he could stretch it towards his hip. Karen gently probed his muscles while watching for signs of discomfort.

Next we had Brisbane lay on a cushy pad on the floor so Karen could measure his flexibility. This was highly technical. There were tape measures. And protractors.

What we learned is that Brisbane's entire back end is very tense and sore in a way that indicates chronic lower back pain. Given that I've been pointing to a problem spot on his lower back since he was a puppy, I'm not at all surprised.

Knowing that Brisbane is always tense and ouchy is pretty sad, but I'm pleased to be able to do something about it. Karen showed me some stretches and exercises I can do with him.

Stretch 1 is to extend his knee while preventing him from rotating it outward. He likes to swing his hind legs out when he walks. Stretch 2 is to gently pull the base of his tail and then very slowly release the pressure. We're supposed to do these stretches five times each.

We're also going to do some exercises to help Brisbane engage his core muscles. This should help him better support his back. For now we're just working on balancing, I need to get him a FitPaws peanut for this part.

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